Alfredo Harp Helu was born in Mexico City, Harp is most famous for being the former owner of the biggest Latin American and Mexican bank, Banamex (now part of Citigroup), and was a billion-dollar beneficiary of Citigroup's 2001buyout of Banamex. He is also owner of the telecommunication company, Avantel, the second largest telephone company in Mexico (now part of Axtel).
Harp is married, with several children. He and his family with his second wife divide their time between homes in Mexico City and Oxaca City. He is also a cousin of Carlos Slim Helu, the richest man in Mexico and owner of Telmex, the incumbent telephone company in Mexico and competitor to Avantel & Axtel.
He is a baseball fan, owning wholly or partly two professional baseball teams in Mexico, the Diablos Rojos of Mexico City and the Guerreros of Oaxaca City.
In 1994, Harp's family paid about $30 million after he was held for 106 days by his kidnappers in Mexico City. The release followed a dramatic television appearance in which his son, accompanied by a family lawyer and a priest, accepted the kidnappers' terms unconditionally. At the family's request, the police did not intervene, giving rise to fears that the huge ransom would encourage more kidnappings, and adding to concerns about Mexico's stability. In 1996, authorities claimed to have recovered nearly $10 million of the Harp ransom.
In 2008, Harp attended the funeral of Fernando Martí, 14-year-old son of the founder of a chain of sporting goods stores, who had been kidnapped and murdered, despite his family's payment of a ransom. He also paid for a full-page advertisement in newspapers calling on the government to put a stop to the rising kidnapping phenomenon in Mexico.
Harp funds several charitable foundations:
- Fundación Alfredo Harp Helú
- Fundación Alfredo Harp Helú Oaxaca (involved in education, health, culture, and conservation in the state of Oaxaca).
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